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Super Mario World 3 is definitely a different game from the first two Super Mario World titles, featuring a 3-D isometric viewpoint (similar to OTL and TTL's Super Mario RPG) in which Mario can move in multiple directions. This allows for much more detailed graphics than in Super Mario World 2, utilizing 3-D-like figures instead of the largely 2-D ones in that game. The game features a soundtrack by Koji Kondo that features more than 20 different themes, more than in the previous game, and the soundtrack itself is highly praised. The gameplay itself is largely similar to that of previous Mario platformers. Mario can grow when he collects power-ups (including the new Snowball power-up that lets Mario become Ice Mario, the game removes the Jet Mario power-up from SMW2 and also removes the Cape from the first two Mario World games, Mario is unable to fly in this title) and he shrinks when he gets hit. The game features six worlds and 40+ levels, including a few secret levels and a seventh secret world, though with 80 goals in all, the game features less than Super Mario World 2 (with 120) or even Super Mario World (which had 96), making for a more streamlined game that is also a point of controversy amongst fans of the previous two titles. Yoshi is gone from the game, though he's replaced by Princess Toadstool, if you find her hiding spot in certain levels, she can help you with power-ups, she can attack enemies, or even find secret worlds for you.
The plot of the game is fairly simple: Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and their friends are enjoying a leisurely lunch in the Mushroom Kingdom when suddenly Bowser attacks with an enormous army of Mechakoopas and tanks. The heroes are forced to flee the castle before it is destroyed by Bowser's massive army. Bowser orders his troops to spread out and hunt down Mario, Luigi, and Toadstool as they continue to overrun the Mushroom Kingdom, forcing Mario to once again spring into action to liberate it from Bowser's no-good legions.
- World 1: Mushroom Grasslands
- A set of grassland stages, fairly plain, as is the tradition for Mario games, these levels are mostly ordinary with only a few tricks and traps. At the end of the stage you fight a boss, the boss is a giant version of the standard Mechakoopa enemy..
- World 2: Kalamari Desert
- A set of desert stages. The Ice Flower is especially effective here. The boss of this stage is a giant mechanical Angry Sun that attacks you with fire breath.
- World 3: Monty's Caverns
- A set of underground stages somewhat like Vanilla Dome in Super Mario World. This time around, Monty Mole and his friends help Mario out on their quest. The boss of this realm is a huge tunneling robot that chases Mario through an abandoned mineshaft.
- World 4: Ancient Ruins
- A set of stages taking place amidst long-lost temples that Mario must protect from being desecrated by Bowser's troops. The boss of this world is a giant mechanical Magikoopa.
- World 5: Harsh Marsh
- A series of levels taking place in the middle of brackish jungle swamps. The boss of this stage is actually five bosses, a set of mechanical jungle warriors considered to be one of the toughest boss battles in the Mario series.
- World 6: Bowser's Battlefield
- A set of battles taking place amidst Bowser's battle fortifications. The final battle of the game is a multi-staged battle against Bowser and his enormous Bowser-shaped mech. During this battle, Bowser has captured Princess Toadstool but during a part where Bowser is about to scorch Mario with a lethal fire blast, Toadstool breaks free and socks his mech with her fiercest punch, causing it to malfunction and scorch itself, opening it up to the final blow from Mario.
- World 7: Tower Of Power
- By finding ALL of Toadstool's hiding spots throughout the game, you can access a hidden seventh world with some of the game's toughest challenges as you ascend a giant tower to a secret final boss: Mecha Mario.
Released for the Super Nintendo CD in North America on August 28, 1995, following a successful Japanese release in mid-July that saw the game break many of the sales records that Ocarina of Dreams had set there in April. In North America, the game didn't fare quite as well, though it was still one of the year's biggest selling games. The reason for this was the reviews: the game's new isometric viewpoint was technically gorgeous but somewhat hard to get used to for longtime Mario fans. The SNES-CD controller only had four directions and though you could move in eight (by pushing down two of the directional arrows at once), the game still somewhat lacked the precision platforming element that had been so key to success of earlier Mario games, making for a few frustrating moments. The game was less well-received by reviewers, getting largely 8s and 9s as opposed to the near perfect 10 scores that Super Mario World 2 had gotten. The game was widely considered a disappointment, and sales figures reflected that: ultimately, the game was outsold by Doom in North America over its lifespan, and Doom's first week sales nearly doubled that of Super Mario World 3's. The game was extremely heavily promoted, though not quite to the degree that Super Mario World 2 had been, and though it was a good or perhaps even great game, it just hadn't lived up to the high standards that had been set by Super Mario World 2.